California Educator

November 2012

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TEACHERS TALK TEST PREP You've worried about it. We asked about it. You answered. The topic: Test prep. Of the nearly 200 CTA members who shared their opinion online, 70 percent said they spend at least one-fifth of their time preparing students for testing, and 19 percent reported spending more than 60 percent of their time on test prep. Most members said they dislike spending so much time "test-prepping" students, but have no choice. They voiced concerns about teaching "to" the test vs. teaching test-taking strategies. They worried about the pressure high stakes tests put on students. They are uneasy about the impact on teaching and the profession. They shared sometimes outlandish examples of motivating kids to take "the" test. Read members' comments at Leave your comments there. Or here, by writing us at Teachers weigh in: Test prep is taking over student learning By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin | Photos by Scott Buschman TESTS JUDGE STUDENTS AND TEACHERS Susan Huls teaches at Arroya Vista Elementary School in South Pasadena, an afflu- ent community that attracts parents seeking high test scores. There are monthly tours, and prospective parents are on a waiting list to visit the school. Even with an Academic Performance Index (API) score of 932, a small drop of a percentage point or two sends teachers into a panic resulting in more test prep, she says. "Maintaining the scores is our stress and pressure, multiple-choice test-prep handouts, and explains that it's possible to determine which answer is right by eliminating the others. Then students play "Around the World" with flash cards. Test prep doesn't prepare students for the outside world, Huls worries. "Businesses want people who can think creatively, not kids who know how to bub- She shows youngsters how to "cross out" what she calls the "least obvious" answers on " South Pasadena. "So we teach, model and practice our test-taking strategies beginning on the first day of school. I spend about 800 minutes a month on test prep, and as we get closer to test time, I spend about half of the time on test prep. " says Huls, Teachers Association of ble in a test," she says. "Instead of one standardized test, it would be better if students were tested on multiple measures and could demonstrate problem-solving skills and 16 California Educator November 2012

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